Domenicali: “A new challenge begins”

Everything is almost ready now in the Albert Park paddock.

Tomorrow is the first day of official action for the race weekend, starting with the usual FIA run media meetings. Today, all the Scuderia engineers have been at the track, with the exception of Pat Fry, currently on a flight to Melbourne. Fernando Alonso showed up at the circuit before spending time on one of his favourite sports, cycling. His race engineer, Andrea Stella made the most of it to have a quick technical meeting with the Spaniard in the build up to the first Grand Prix of the season: there will be more time for talk, at least until the first free practice session on Friday, and then the track will have its say in terms of giving an initial opinion.

 “Everyone is eager to get going with a new challenge,” said Team Principal Stefano Domenicali, talking to, before getting on the flight to Australia. “It’s going to be a very long season and, at least as far as see it, a very unpredictable one: there are many teams who look like being in the hunt, especially in the early stages. We arrive in Australia knowing we have not reached our goals in terms of performance for a variety of reasons, which we have discussed at length over the past few days. However, I wish to repeat what I said before, we still need to wait a few days before knowing where we stand in relation to the others. I’m convinced that we will be in the fight and we will be there right to the end. I said the same thing at the end of last season: if we happen to do well in the first race, we will not be making a show of ourselves, just as we must not feel downhearted if we are not competitive at the highest level. All we must do is stay focussed on the job of developing the car. The championship does not end until the end of November, which is something we should never forget.”

 The Australian Grand Prix has long been a happy hunting ground for the Scuderia: from 1999 to 2004, only once in 2003, did the Prancing Horse fail to take the win.

Four times Michael Schumacher (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004) took the win, while Eddie Irvine did it in 1999, bringing a Ferrari home ahead of the pack at Albert Park. Prior to that, Gerhard Berger won in Adelaide in 1987, while 20 years later, Kimi Raikkonen, who returns this year to Formula 1 after a two year gap, gave Ferrari its seventh win and, at least to date, its last one.

After the Finn triumphed, the Scuderia’s journey in Australia has held more pain than pleasure. Of eight attempts, Ferrari has only finished on the podium once courtesy of Felipe Massa in 2010, his best result here in a race that has never been good to him. More noteworthy has been the performance of his team-mate, Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard has been on the podium four times (one win, a second place and two thirds) and he has always seen the flag, even on his Formula 1 debut, in 2001. He was driving a Minardi back then and finished twelfth having started nineteenth. In his first two years with the Reds, the two times world champion took out a subscription to fourth place in Melbourne: maybe this year is the right one for doing better and seeing the view from the podium again.

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